My Kingdom for a Horse(power)

14 April 2023

Saudi Arabia’s links with Formula 1 go back to the 1970s when the Saudia national airline sponsored the Williams team.

And now, the Aston Martin Formula 1 team has signed a multi-year deal with the national flag carrier, Saudia.

The Jeddah Corniche Circuit held its third Formula 1 race on 19 March 2023, all within 15 months.

Clearly, the Saudi Motorsport Company (SMC) wishes to increase its presence in motorsport.

The circuit is 3.836 miles long, and top speeds reach just over 200mph with an average speed of just over 155mph. Monza is the only faster circuit on the 2023 calendar.

The country has hosted Formula E, the Dakar Rally, and Extreme E and plans to include MotoGP and World Rally Championship.

This development is all part of the Saudi Vision 2030, including Football, Golf and Boxing; the ambition is for the country to be less dependent on oil revenues.

Formula 1’s occupancy has attracted criticism from human rights organisations, like Amnesty International, questioning whether the sport is a platform for change or whether it is to ‘sportwash’ its image.

Saudi Arabian involvement in motorsport has increased over recent years.

Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Abdullah Al-Faisal, the chairman of the SMC, is targeting an increased Saudi presence on the F1 calendar in 2027, with the Qiddiya Automotive Centre designed to lead the world in Formula 1 circuit design and entertainment.